I can hardly put my thoughts into words after the conclusion of an anime like this. How best to describe it? Truly heartwarming. A magnificent tale of loving your life no matter how hard it was to live it. Getting a second chance at paradise with friends who share your struggles. Forgiving God for the punishment fate dealt you. Learning that no matter how little time is spent nothing is wasted when you’re with friends and family. To tell the truth, this anime almost had me in tears a few times.
Angel Beats! Follows a group of regular high school students who are sent to a sort of limbo world where they must disobey the orders of Angel to be good students so that they might live a happy high school life. A kind of life that was absent from their own. Because if they choose to befriend Angel they will pass on, and not too many of them are keen on passing on when every one of them has endured such hardship. However, Angel does not welcome them defying her rules and fights them for control over what could become an Eternal Eden.
A big criticism of this anime is that because it is so short only, 6 of the 15+ cast of characters actually get a nice backstory. It’s almost a shame, to be honest. Every character in this anime has a story that tells how life punished them. How they lived an incomplete life. How their life was unfair. So they are sent to this limbo world because they choose to believe God granted them something they did not deserve but once they accept their emotions and their turmoil, they are at peace and are obliterated.
I found myself becoming so invested in each character. I hate that I didn’t get any answers to what every character went through that put them in the limbo world with Angel. Might I say that this anime doesn’t even have a fulfilling ending? The climax is very sad. Our main character never ascends even though he lived both his life and his afterlife devoted to saving people he never was able to move on. An ending that would make some people cry.
Moreover, the villain of this series isn’t clearly defined. You come to believe Angel is the antagonist but later find out she was just trying to show everyone that their lives were worth living and that they should be thankful they were sent to limbo and granted a second chance before passing on. When it becomes clear that there is no point in fighting Angel though a new enemy emerges and the story takes a turn for acting like a video game, which didn’t settle well with me.
The soundtrack and the animation of this series are by far astounding. I can see why this series is only 13 episodes because with quality like this I’m shocked they even made it this long. The blend of visual effects, 3D animation, and 2D animation make for some truly stunning scenes and visuals. The soundtrack and opening is something you could listen to all day. It’s tranquil and jovial to listen to. The only thing that spoils this anime is its length really.
If you’re looking for an anime with a deep philosophical message then try again. While Angel Beats! Does tend to border on sadness and regret in the later episodes it focuses a lot more on comedy and parody in the earlier segments. So much so that I found myself laughing hysterically when Yuri was launching her friends up into the ceiling with rocket boosters underneath their school desks. It’s fortunate that the series makes a ploy out of every character not being able to die in the limbo world. So all their deaths are used as pure comic relief.
Watch Angel Beats! for the characters not for the story. Because the way its structured is confusing. The plot holes are blatantly obvious in this one. I assure you you’ll find that the need to know each of the character’s backstories will carry you farther than wanting to know how the anime ends. Be sure to keep that box of tissue near you in the last episode too. You’re going to need it.
Overall I recommend this anime to anyone. It’s heartwarming and sweet, short and visually stunning, a beauty to listen to and watch. And although its ending is less than to be desired, the message behind it and the feels you will get from watching make it a true spectacle to behold. An anime anyone can enjoy watching. It teaches people that no matter what hand God deals you, you can make the most of it by giving back to others that were less fortunate than you. No life is wasted if one life can be saved.